Original headquarters of the Panama America newspaper and its English edition, The Panama American. Image courtesy of EPASA
The Panama Tribune covered many stories of local or national interest that had great bearing on people’s lives. It became probably the most popular of the English Language newspapers for the black West Indian communities of both the Canal Zone and the terminal cities of Panama and Colon.
There was the article of October 20, 1946 that ran “Will Admit Students of Panama of ‘Restricted’ Class:” A new decree for groups classified as ‘Prohibited Immigrants’ by the administration of Don Enrique Jimenez. Children of this group between the ages of 15-30 years, who desire to further their education in secondary school, will be admitted to enter Panama. This is due to the U.N. Charter and Article 21 of the New Constitution (of 1946) opposed to racial discrimination.” In upcoming posts we will get into the intricacies of the Constitution of 1941, in particular, that turned native born children of Westindian descent into “prohibited immigrants.” Continue reading
Vintage images of the Old Biblioteca Nacional Courtesy of their website binal.ac.pa.
Accustomed as I’ve been since my college days of spending hours pouring over ancient volumes, archives and records in the venerable libraries of New York City (The N.Y. City Public Library) and several other branches, I must say, going to peer into the pages of The Panama Tribune here in Panama was an experience. Upon telling the woman behind the circulation counter which newspaper I wanted to consult she invited me to take a seat in the periodical area and proceeded to hand me a pair of latex gloves and a dust mask. Continue reading
The Panama Tribune’s masthead.
The West Indian English Language Press in Panama From the moment the great bulk of West Indians arrived on the Isthmus to participate in the construction of the Great Waterway they, as well as a few American entrepreneurs, began a veritable tradition in putting their feelings, experiences, needs and wants into press- in English. The English Language Press has an interesting if not always consistent history on the Panamanian isthmus and, thanks, for the most part, to Mr. Anthony MacLean’s chronology, a unique publication outlining the West Indian participation in this history, we’ve been able to encapsulate it for our readers. Where ever and whenever possible we’ve cited circulation figures. Continue reading
Sidney A. Young, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Panama Tribune- A Weekly Newspaper
Amongst the giants of the Panamanian Westindian community, Sidney A. Young represents, without a doubt, the zeal for knowledge and the struggle to defend, to perpetuate and to fix the present in the mind of his contemporaries with the word, one of the most effective ways of constructing the future within the collective memory. Continue reading
Image of George W. Westerman meeting
Congressman Adam Claton Powell (Panama) 1949.
Courtesy of Schomburg Library
Probably one of the greatest stars in the Westindian galaxy of outstanding men and women was George W. Westerman (February 22, 1910-August 30, 1988), who was at once a tennis champion, historian, journalist, diplomat, sociologist, community leader and businessman. This proud and resourceful “Renaissance Man,” of the Westindian community in Panama exemplified the long list of achievements of the first generation Panamanians of West Indian descent. Continue reading
- Image shows the blatant neglect at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Colon. On our visit we also saw many old tombs destroyed, covered with garbage and almost unrecognisable.
The middle and lower images are from Corozal Cemetery in Panama City.
These two tombs were especially disturbing examples
of neglect and poor administration of the cemetery,
once a well kept “garden cemetery.”
During the month of May, the month in which Black people in the Caribbean and Central and South America celebrate their race- Celebración de la Etnia Negra– it is only fitting that we, the Black Westindians of Panama, make a conscientious pause to honour all those ancestors who worked and died building and maintaining the Panama Canal. We will pause here to relate some of the history of the “Silver” cemeteries and their unique beginnings. After all, it is where most of our ancestors were laid to rest. Continue reading